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Requirements for cruise ships and Superyachts entering Australia

Maritime Traveller Processing Committee (MTPC)

The MTPC co-ordinates the exercise of various statutory controls and responsibilities carried out at seaports. One of the MTPC’s functions is to review approval requests from the cruise ship industry to arrive or depart from minor, restricted and non-designated seaports where there is no permanent Australian Border Force or Department of Agriculture presence. This function is now extended to superyachts as described.

Cruise ships

Cruise ships are subject to customs, immigration and biosecurity controls when entering and/or departing Australia. This includes requiring permission to enter an Australian Non-Appointed First port of Entry and/or to enter subsequent Ports of Call.

Maritime Traveller Processing Committee approval is required for cruise ships wanting to enter seaports other than the Port of:

  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Brisbane (excluding Tangalooma)
  • Cairns (excluding Yorkeys Knob)
  • Port Adelaide
  • Darwin
  • Fremantle
  • Hobart

Cruise ships wanting to arrive, depart or visit any other seaports (including Tangalooma and Yorkeys Knob) must submit a Maritime Traveller Processing Committee application.

Superyachts

Large motor or sailing vessels (superyachts) of over 24 metres in length, whether for private use or commercial recreational or sporting activities, are subject to customs, immigration and biosecurity controls when entering and/or departing Australia. 

Recent changes to reporting and border clearance procedures have resulted in a superyacht owner/operator/master or agent being able to seek permission to enter Australia through non-appointed ports.

This applies to both private superyachts and those intending to operate as special recreational vessels (SRVs) in Australia for commercial purposes and under temporary licence arrangements as described under the Special Recreational Vessels Act (2019) and Coastal Trading (revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012.        

A ship’s owner/operator/master or agent must submit a request through the Maritime Travellers Processing Committee (MTPC), for superyachts:

  • operating privately, but proposing to arrive in Australia at non-appointed ports, or
  • operating as an SRV (under a temporary coastal trading licence) proposing to arrive or visit non-appointed ports   

If intending to arrive in Australia through appointed ports of entry refer to Let us know you’re coming and Yachts and pleasure craft for information and requirements.

Note: Approved arrival clearance of vessels at non-appointed ports will incur Australian Border Force and Department of Agriculture cost recovery charges. The Australian Border Force does not levy any charges for clearance at appointed ports. However, the Department of Agriculture operates on a full cost recovery basis.               

Making an application to the MTPC

Cruise ships

If MTPC approval is required, cruise ship operators or their agents must provide a written request to the MTPC mailbox. See How to contact the MTPC. The MTPC will liaise with relevant border agencies in relation to resource implications and approval, as well as to ascertain the availability and adequacy of existing facilities for processing travellers.

Application process

If MTPC approval is required, cruise ship operators or their agents must submit a written application at least 30 days prior to the arrival and no more than 2 years in advance. The application form must contain the full itinerary, vessel details and port intentions (for example, passenger/crew exchange, shore excursions, and sail by/anchor only).

Cruise vessels also wanting to apply for round trip cruise status must apply by email to cruiseships@abf.gov.au.

Further information can be obtained by contacting the MTPC.

Passenger clearance options

The Australian Border Force and cruise operators determine the most efficient and effective method of clearance.

Options include:

  • on a wharf, at a dedicated or temporary facility, or
  • on board, while the vessel is alongside, or
  • en route, between the last port overseas and the first port of arrival in Australia

If you want to request en route clearance, please contact the MTPC.

En route clearances require Australian Border Force officers to join the vessel prior to departure from the last overseas port. The agent or operator is responsible for all costs associated with the officer’s overseas travel including airfares, accommodation, meals and ground transport.

Cruise ship visitors

The cruise ship operator should seek permission from the MTPC at least 10 working days prior to inviting visitors to board a cruise ship for a function or other purpose not related directly to the vessel's operations (for example, media events, marketing events or fund raising activities).

Further information can be obtained by contacting the MTPC.

Superyachts

Application process

If MTPC approval is required, vessel operator/owners/masters or their agents must submit an MTPC application no later than 10 business days (Monday – Friday) prior to the arrival and no more than 12 months in advance. The application form must contain the full itinerary, vessel details and port intentions (for example, passenger/crew exchange, shore excursions, and sail by/anchor only). The application form can be requested by contacting the MTPC.

Superyachts approved for arrival at non-appointed ports will be subject to the operator/owners/masters or their agents meeting Australian Border Force and Department of Agriculture border clearance costs associated with attending non-appointed ports to clear the vessel and persons/goods.

Note: Superyachts operating under a coastal trading licence will potentially incur costs at all non-appointed ports visited during a voyage. 

Further information can be obtained by contacting the MTPC.

Reporting requirements

Superyachts (non-commercial) arriving in Australia through a non-appointed port remain subject to the impending arrival reporting requirements as outlined in Let us know you’re coming and information requirements as outlined in Yachts and pleasure craft.

Superyachts operating under a coastal trading licence are considered international commercial vessels and must also comply with the standard reporting and operating requirements for international commercial vessels under the Coastal Trading Act and customs legislation.

Passenger and vessel clearance options

The Australian Border Force and Department of Agriculture will determine passenger and vessel clearance for superyachts.     

Options are:

  • on a wharf, at a dedicated or temporary facility, or
  • On-board, while the vessel is alongside

Passenger and vessel clearances will not be facilitated at anchorages. 

Further information can be obtained by contacting the MTPC.

How to contact the MTPC

The MTPC operates Monday – Friday 8.30 am – 4.30 pm (excluding public holidays). You can contact the MTPC by email mtpc@abf.gov.au

Emails received outside of business hours will be responded to the next business day.